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July 18, 2017

Two Maine cancer centers to merge under Dempsey name

Photo  / Kevin Brusie
Photo / Kevin Brusie
From left, Patrick Dempsey, Dempsey Center founder and actor; Nicole Avery, Cancer Community Center executive director; Wendy Tardif, Dempsey Center executive director; and Bill Williams, Cancer Community Center Board vice president, announced Monday that the two organizations have agreed to develop a merger agreement over the next several months.

South Portland's Cancer Community Center and Lewiston's Dempsey Center said Monday they've agreed to develop a merger agreement over the next several months.

Both organizations offer quality-of-life services to individuals and families affected by cancer in Maine. Both will operate under the Dempsey Center name by early 2018.

The merger remains subject to ongoing due diligence, the negotiation of a merger agreement, and final approval of the boards of directors of both organizations.

The merged entity will be independent of Central Maine Healthcare, a founding partner of the Dempsey Center. The decision to become independent was driven by growth opportunities that will allow the Dempsey Center to expand its mission in the face of growing demand for cancer care services in Maine by opening access to more philanthropic support and grant opportunities. The combined operation will have 30 employees.

Wendy Tardif will continue as executive director of the combined Dempsey Centers. Nicole Avery will take on a senior leadership role within the new organization.

Actor Patrick Dempsey, a Lewiston native and founder of the Dempsey Center, plans to be more involved with the expanded organization and will hold a permanent seat on the new board of directors, working closely with leadership, donors and staff as its guiding voice, the Dempsey Center said in a news release.

"Cancer hit our family hard," said Dempsey. "Experiencing our mother's [Amanda Dempsey] journey, we were inspired to ensure those impacted by cancer had the programs and services needed to support healing and simply cope with everyday living. We know our work in Maine will never be done, though we all see potential to replicate this model throughout Maine and beyond in some capacity in the future. By working together, the possibilities are endless."

Tardif cited the two organizations' "history of collaboration."

"Merging expands our ability to offer best practices related to quality of life services at no cost to individuals and families impacted by cancer," Tardif said. "We also look forward to using this opportunity to forge even stronger relationships with all health systems across the state."

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Maine and it is estimated that there are over 125,000 cancer survivors statewide, according to the 2014 Maine Cancer Surveillance Report and 2013 Maine Cancer Foundation report.

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